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Yueya

Emotions in Ancient China

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An informative book:

 

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The Emotions in Early Chinese Philosophy by Curie Virág

 

In China, the debate over the moral status of emotions began around the fourth century BCE, when early philosophers first began to invoke psychological categories such as the mind (xin), human nature (xing), and emotions (qing) to explain the sources of ethical authority and the foundations of knowledge about the world. Although some thinkers during this period proposed that human emotions and desires were temporary physiological disturbances in the mind caused by the impact of things in the world, this was not the account that would eventually gain currency. The consensus among those thinkers who would come to be recognized as the foundational figures of the Confucian and Daoist philosophical traditions was that the emotions represented the underlying, dispositional constitution of a person, and that they embodied the patterned workings of the cosmos itself.

 

Curie Virág sets out to explain why the emotions were such a central preoccupation among early thinkers, situating the entire debate within developments in conceptions of the self, the cosmos, and the political order. She shows that the mainstream account of emotions as patterned reality emerged as part of a major conceptual shift towards the recognition of natural reality as intelligible, orderly, and coherent. The mainstream account of emotions helped to summon the very idea of the human being as a universal category and to establish the cognitive and practical agency of human beings. This book, the first intensive study of the subject, traces the genealogy of these early Chinese philosophical conceptions and examines their crucial role in the formation of ethical, political and cultural values in China.

 

 

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54 minutes ago, Cleansox said:

An expensive book. 

 

Worth it? 

 

I like it but yes, the price is pretty steep.  You can get a taste of the content of it from Amazon preview. It takes you up to about the first third of her introductory chapter. Here’s her conclusion to that Introduction:


The wide-ranging views of emotions espoused by early Chinese philosophers reveal a diverse intellectual landscape in which basic questions of ethics and politics were the focus of major concern. The discussions that unfolded were part of more fundamental debates about what human beings were like, and how human beings formed a part of the world and cosmos. The thinkers whose ideas would come to be identified with the mainstream philosophical tradition were united by a shared assumption that the emotions were both intelligent and intelligible, and that they were human instantiation of patterns that pervaded the natural world. Such an idea was encapsulated in the semantic range of the term qing 情, which encompassed feelings and emotions, human dispositions, and the underlying, characteristic reality of things. When the mainstream thinkers joined together this range of ideas, they invoked a certain conception of the natural world to make a distinct argument about the self and the proper form of the ethical life— namely, that the proper life was one in which human beings optimally realized certain potentialities that were inherent in their constitutional workings.

 

The fact that the early mainstream thinkers appealed to the emotions to make their case did not signal a subjectivization of ethics, a choice of the emotive over the cognitive faculty, or a relinquishing of agency. As they defined them, the emotions had the capacity to instantiate the patterned workings of the cosmos, and to actualize these patterns within the person. To this extent, the emotions were objective phenomena that were both natural and normative. Moreover, emotions represented a genuine interface between the self and the world, and— properly realized— reflected true insight into the workings of the world. Finally, the mainstream thinkers firmly rejected the idea that emotions represented nothing more than passive responses to the world. While they acknowledged that, in their ordinary workings, emotions were vulnerable to the influence from the world and might thus threaten one’s inner coherence and self-control, they clearly specified that there was also an optimal state of realization in which emotional fulfillment joined with the patterned workings of the cosmos to confer tremendous power and agency onto the individual. Such an ideal pervaded the thought of all the mainstream thinkers, regardless of school and intellectual affiliation, and would dramatically shape the course of thought and ethical values for millennia to come. 

 

 

Edited by Yueya

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古中國的思想認為情緒是傷身的,平和之氣是最優良的,所以基本上不鼓勵喜怒憂思悲恐這些情緒。

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18 minutes ago, awaken said:

古中國的思想認為情緒是傷身的,平和之氣是最優良的,所以基本上不鼓勵喜怒憂思悲恐這些情緒。

 

Google Translate: The ancient Chinese thought that emotions are harmful to the body, and peace is the best, so basically do not encourage such emotions as joy, anger, worry, sadness, and fear.

 

While what you write has some truth, the book shows why this summation is simplistic and misleading, as I hoped the extracts above make clear. 

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Understanding qing and its relation to xing is an important aspect of neidan practice. 

See for example zhonghe ji, cantong qi, jindan sibai zi. 

 

The book The seven emotions is a great introduction to the subject, but in my experience, a discussion on the development of the term might be very useful, as a historical and cultural immersion, to help ones understanding. 

 

There is a text on the development of "de" that is useful in the same way. (Thank you @Aetherous and @OldDogover at Original Dao) 

Edited by Cleansox
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On 2022/1/22 at 2:00 PM, Yueya said:

 

Google Translate: The ancient Chinese thought that emotions are harmful to the body, and peace is the best, so basically do not encourage such emotions as joy, anger, worry, sadness, and fear.

 

While what you write has some truth, the book shows why this summation is simplistic and misleading, as I hoped the extracts above make clear. 

 

 

喜怒憂『思』悲恐,少了一個『思』,思不是sadness,應該比較接近think這個字吧,只是我的英文太差,想不出來哪個字比較適合,應該是有比較適合的文字

 

這本書是英文的,以我的程度應該是看不懂的,不過中文經常用成語來表達情緒,你說的用情緒表達這個人的性格,也是有某些成語有類似的表達,比如『不怒自威』,就是形容一個人長得很威風,性格也很嚴肅,讓人望而生畏。

 

 

Edited by awaken
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On 22/01/2022 at 11:57 PM, awaken said:

 

 

喜怒憂『思』悲恐,少了一個『思』,思不是sadness,應該比較接近think這個字吧,只是我的英文太差,想不出來哪個字比較適合,應該是有比較適合的文字

 

這本書是英文的,以我的程度應該是看不懂的,不過中文經常用成語來表達情緒,你說的用情緒表達這個人的性格,也是有某些成語有類似的表達,比如『不怒自威』,就是形容一個人長得很威風,性格也很嚴肅,讓人望而生畏。

 

 

 

According to Google Translate, in part you wrote: “This book is in English, so I shouldn't understand it to my level...” 

 

This topic is predicated on the insights Curie Virág presents in her book. It was meant to introduce the book to anyone who may be interested in reading it.  It wasn’t my intention to create a discussion topic. However, I certainly welcome any discussion relating to the perspectives presented in the book, though I personally may not join in.

 

From what I’ve read of your posts, you are obviously a dedicated and knowledgeable practitioner. But trying to converse with you at any depth is not possible via Google-Translate. The translations are too clumsy. At the best they give the gist of what was meant, at their worst the result is garbled nonsense.

 

Hence, I have no idea what this reply of mine will end up meaning to you via Google-Translate. Going on the translation I got of the Chinese characters you substituted for my words in the post of mine you quoted, I am not optimistic: 

 

Quote

 

Google Translate: The ancient Chinese believed that emotions hurt the body, so China basically does not cry for emotions such as sadness and music.

 

 You use what the book describes and a true story to tell the truth about the story I tell the simplest story.

 

 

(Incidentally, even though I appreciate the integrity of your intention, changing a member's words when quoting them is not a good practice. It would have been better if you put the Chinese translation below the quotation box.)

 

Edited by Yueya

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通過英文你也無法與我深度交談,因為我無法寫出深度交談的英文

 

你好像期望我寫出深度的英文,來跟你用英文交談,但是如果你用功一點,搜尋一下我以前的文章,你就會知道,我受限於英文程度不佳,很難用英文充分表達自己的想法,因為有很多字,我是寫不出來的

 

所以,你尊重我的中文書寫能力,我也尊重你的英文能力,畢竟現在是網路時代,有google翻譯可以使用,為什麼你一定要堅持使用英文呢?

 

更何況我們談論的是以中文為基礎的道家思想,不是嗎?

Edited by awaken

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16 hours ago, awaken said:

通過英文你也無法與我深度交談,因為我無法寫出深度交談的英文

 

你好像期望我寫出深度的英文,來跟你用英文交談,但是如果你用功一點,搜尋一下我以前的文章,你就會知道,我受限於英文程度不佳,很難用英文充分表達自己的想法,因為有很多字,我是寫不出來的

 

所以,你尊重我的中文書寫能力,我也尊重你的英文能力,畢竟現在是網路時代,有google翻譯可以使用,為什麼你一定要堅持使用英文呢?

 

更何況我們談論的是以中文為基礎的道家思想,不是嗎?

 

I hear you loud and clear. But so far you’ve shown nothing but misunderstandings and talking at cross purposes. And that makes me sad.  For a start, I’m definitely not suggesting we have a discussion in English.  But I don’t want to repeat myself by further attempts at explaining what I mean. The language barrier is too great. There’s a better way.  Beyond the words there’s a place of real connection:

 

There’s a big space in this forum

A heart space for those who seek it.

Under the words, a stillness

A place where people can meet across countries, across cultures.

A place where we all speak the same silent language

And feel within our hearts a teaching beyond words.

 

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On 2022-01-22 at AM7点00分, Yueya said:

 

Google Translate: The ancient Chinese thought that emotions are harmful to the body, and peace is the best, so basically do not encourage such emotions as joy, anger, worry, sadness, and fear.

 

While what you write has some truth, the book shows why this summation is simplistic and misleading, as I hoped the extracts above make clear. 

Now I read it, and although the important parts (as they relate to actual practice) can be cut down to less than a page, they are still relevant. 

 

The author, Curie Virag, makes a good job in discussing strengths, weaknesses and cultural bias in translations. 

 

The main reason I decided to read is was because @Yueyarecommended it, and since it analysed the term "qing", which is mentioned in multiple texts discussing nei dan. I mentioned a few above. Could add the Wuzhen Pian to the others. 

 

So. 

In my opinion, is "emotions" the most relevant translation of "qing" at a relatively late stage of practice? 

 

No. 

 

Qing might be emotions when one pair it with xin. That is an early stage pairing though. 

 

When paired with xing, qing is better translated as (and now you can ready the book, and find out for yourself 😊). 

The DDJ, verse 1, discuss this. 

Edited by Cleansox
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On 2022/1/26 at 6:23 AM, Yueya said:

 

I hear you loud and clear. But so far you’ve shown nothing but misunderstandings and talking at cross purposes. And that makes me sad.  For a start, I’m definitely not suggesting we have a discussion in English.  But I don’t want to repeat myself by further attempts at explaining what I mean. The language barrier is too great. There’s a better way.  Beyond the words there’s a place of real connection:

 

There’s a big space in this forum

A heart space for those who seek it.

Under the words, a stillness

A place where people can meet across countries, across cultures.

A place where we all speak the same silent language

And feel within our hearts a teaching beyond words.

 

 

既然你不是要求我使用英文,那就沒事了

我確實不了解你在難過什麼,只覺得你有點太會繞圈子,用中文來說就是鑽牛角尖

 

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